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Vol. II, Issue No. 6  
November 27, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving! Our November briefing discusses: a recent case which imposes individual manager liability for sex discrimination; the danger of a lack of clarity in a will; a recent article featuring our firm; and our words of Thanksgiving.  Have a great holiday weekend!


Managers Beware: You Can Be Individually Liable For Discriminating Against Employees

Until recently, managers have not been individually liable under Title VII, which protects employees against discrimination based on grounds such as race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Liability is typically limited to the employer. A recent case from the Sixth Circuit (which covers Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio), however, has strayed from that general rule. 


In Mengelkamp v. Lake Metropolitan Housing Authority, a female plaintiff sued her employer and manager for sex discrimination. A jury found that her male manager consciously disregarded her rights and engaged in "outrageous" and "flagrant" actions. The jury awarded $105,000 in punitive damages against the manager. The Court of Appeals found that the manager held a supervisory position, had significant control over the plaintiff's firing, and was the person in charge of employment conditions. The manager was therefore an "employee" under the statute and could be found individually liable. Strict policies and training continue to be the best methods of preventing these types of claims.  

Is Your Estate Plan Clear Enough To Ensure Your Children Won't Sue Your Spouse?
A recent case highlights that if a will isn't perfectly clear, there remains the possibility that your children or other family members may contest it.  In the recent case of the Vanderwall Estate the wife's will directed that if her second husband did not survive her death, her daughters would receive property she owned in Cheboygan, Michigan. The will did not have the classic "residue clause" which should have specifically directed that the property would go to the husband if he did in fact survive. The wife's daughters therefore sued their step-father after he, as personal representative, transferred the property to himself. Eight years after the wife's death, the Michigan Court of Appeals found there was a "logical inference" that if the second husband survived, he would receive the entire estate - litigation which could have been avoided with more clarity in the will.
HSP Featured In Lawyers Weekly 
HSP Chrysler House

Our firm was recently featured in an article in Michigan Lawyers Weekly on law firms moving from the suburbs to Detroit's central business hub. John Hubbard was quoted extensively. On the reasons for the move, John said: "The move was pretty easy for us; our firm saw that the city was attracting small businesses, entrepreneurs, startups, and we recognized the opportunity for our firm to work and connect with those like-minded business owners who wanted to be part of the city's rebirth."

Some Words of Thanksgiving!
We recently celebrated our first anniversary of being in our new space. If you haven't stopped by to see us, please do! We are very thankful for all of our family, clients and friends. It's been a great year in the "D" and we couldn't have done it without all of you. Happy Thanksgiving!!

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